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Into the Weird - The Mandela Effect
Have you ever gone back to watch a movie you remember vividly from your childhood only to find certain scenes or lines in the movie aren't as you recall? Have you ever looked at a map and found that certain countries, islands or continents are not arranged as you had previously thought? Have you ever been absolutely certain a celebrity or public figured was already dead only to find out that they are alive and well?
If you answered yes to any of these questions I have two things to tell you 1) You are a human being with a flawed memory and 2) You may be a victim of the so-called Mandela Effect.
In this installment of Into the Weird I will explain what the Mandela Effect is and elucidate some of the obvious reasons why I am skeptical of the claims that something spooky, supernatural or conspiratorial is behind it.
What is the Mandela Effect?
As described above the Mandela Effect is when you could swear that you remember something correctly only to find out that you're absolutely wrong. The effect is named after Nelson Mandela due to the fact that the people who first “discovered” the phenomenon were under the impression that Mandela had died in the 1980s while still in prison. When he died in 2013 the people who had this clear memory of him already having died took to the internet. Apparently there are a great deal of people who have this memory and rather than chock it up to a bad news report or rumor from the 80s that falsely reported Mandela's death they think something truly fishy is going on.
Bear With Me
Similar confusion has stemmed from the popular children's book series the Berenstain Bears with hundreds if not thousands swearing they recall the books being spelled BerenSTEIN instead of STAIN. Now I myself owned several of these books as a kid but for the life of me I can't remember which spelling it was, the only thing I know is that I personally pronounced it BerenSTEIN the same way one pronounces Frankenstein. Everyone remembers it a little differently and no one can decide what the hell happened.
The actual Berenstain family weighed in informing everyone that it's ALWAYS been spelled Berenstain despite any potential misprints or anyone's faulty memories. So case closed right?
Wrong, because people are arguing that at some point it HAD to be Berenstein, they remember it so vividly and there's no way they could possibly be wrong! Something weird must be going on! Reality has been altered OR they have been SHIFTING from one reality to another with slight details changing between the realities they visit.
Alternate Realities? Simulated Universe?
There are literally dozens upon dozens of different pieces of “evidence” that the proponents of the Mandela Effect will posit as proof that something sinister or bizarre is going on. Everything from New Zealand being on the “wrong” side of Australia to the spelling of their favorite childhood cereal. Now obviously most of this can be explained as minor lapses in memory. Human memory is extremely malleable and fallible especially as time between the present and the past event in question grows.
Of course that doesn't stop believers in this effect from conjuring all sorts of conspiracy theories explaining it. Perhaps we are in a simulated Universe, like the Matrix, and regular bugs, glitches and errors occur. It might make sense that as the human population increases and we proliferate our works of fiction, our films, our movies, our maps, our books, etc that the master server on which we are all simulated might feel stressed. Perhaps bugs would develop that would sometimes show us Berenstain and other times show us Berenstein. In other words proponents of this explanation think it's more likely that the Universe made a mistake than that their own memories are wrong.
Or perhaps we are all shifting in and out of parallel dimensions like it's an episode of the twilight zone. After all finding out our favorite film isn't titled what we thought it was or our favorite song's lyrics aren't as we remembered them initially does sometimes make us do a double-take. I can understand how someone with a very strong vivid memory might genuinely be a bit creeped out or confused by finding out their memory is wrong. They might even quietly whisper the X-Files or Twilight Zone theme in that moment.
But parallel dimensions? Other realities? Shifting time streams? Simulated Universe? Is that really more likely an explanation than human fallibility?
Or is it WE'RE Gonna Need a Bigger Boat?
Argument from Numbers
The most common argument I've heard from those who believe something weird is going on with the Mandela effect is that the thousands of people who have experienced it can't “all be wrong”. In one video I watched as the maker of the video actually has the gall to tell the author of Interview with The Vampire that the name of her book is Interview with A Vampire because that's how he and some other people remember it. They claim it could not be otherwise and the more people they have who also remember it that way the more they feel justified in claiming they MUST be right.
This is, of course, asinine in the extreme and is a logical fallacy called an Argument from Numbers or Argumentum ad Populum (an argument from CONSENSUS). Each incident, each person's memory, is a SEPARATE THING. I am amazed at how often (during my research for this article) I saw Mandela Effect believers dismiss as invalid the memories of those who disagreed with them but accepted as additional evidence all of those who remembered as they do.
Your memory is in your own head, it is thoughts in your brain and to suggest you can simply get others together and conflate your memory with theirs as if they are the same memory is absurd. We know that eye witness testimony is unreliable and the longer the time between the incident and the testimony the more inaccurate the memory will be. Now we have people from all over the world with different life experiences – two people who grew up with Berenstain bears books will have different memories of holding quite literally DIFFERENT books and then come together and claim with absolute certainty that it was Berenstein the whole time.
Proof is Elusive
In the end the only real proof that believers in the Mandela Effect have is their own personal experiences and faulty memories, the occasional misprint or misspelling by an official source and the fact that so many other people mis-remember, misspell, and make mistakes. Of course many also try to jump on to developments in science and the fact that the scientific field is currently quite friendly to the idea of other Universes. The Multi-Verse, Simulated Universe and Holographic Universe are all notions that help feed into the idea that they aren't simply mistaken.
The problem is that I have not yet seen a single real credible scientist actually looking for evidence of the Mandela Effect and that is where proof would have to come from. A scientist or team of scientists somewhere in the world would have to confirm that yes there are indeed other Universes and yes there can be bleed-through of those similar realities into our own. Without actual scientific proof the Mandela Effect remains a conspiracy theory full of sci-fi speculation that cannot currently be falsified.
Egotism and Conspiracy
Now I have no doubt that some who stumble onto the Mandela Effect will be genuinely intrigued, curious about it and open to multiple explanations including allowing much of the supposed instances of the effect be explained away. However some conspiracy theorists cross a line into a whole new weird area.
Something I can't quite understand are those who believe that the effect is somehow tied into the global conspiracy they already see the world as being controlled by. Whether it be controlled by Jews, Reptile men from another planet or demonic spirits a certain conspiracy minded brand of Mandela Effect believers try to tie the effect into sinister or even paranormal forces. This simply makes no sense to me. What benefit does changing the title of Interview with the Vampire give the people in charge of this “prison planet”. What do the soul devouring Reptilians care where New Zealand is supposed to be?
Earlier I mentioned a video from someone called ChaldeanCauldron about Interview with the Vampire. I discovered this youtube channel while researching for this very article and was astounded by the bizarre delusions the man who runs the channel suffers from. I say this not to be mean but to show it as a prime and OBVIOUS example of how conspiracy theorist thinking can cross the line into paranoid delusion and egotism.
In this lengthy laundry list of supposed glitches the author claims that things such as the spelling of the Kellogg's Cereal Froot Loops and the fact that he suddenly likes the song Mr Roboto by Styx after years of disliking it are evidence of spooky sinister goings on. If the first video I linked to - where he tells author Anne Rice that she has the name of her own book wrong and claiming Google is complicit in a conspiracy that involves changing search results just because he made a video - isn't enough evidence that the man is a raving egotist who thinks he's some kind of special chosen one this video will do it. He also claims that his daughter was conceived without any “juices” (his word, not mine) passing between him and his wife (yuck).
There is a difference between people who are genuinely confused or intrigued about memories they have that have turned out to be incorrect and people like ChaldeanCauldron who claim they can't possibly be wrong.
Most – if not all - of the allegedly spooky stuff going on with the Mandela Effect is easily explained by people's memories being unreliable or by misprints, false news reports, rumors and the fact that brands are constantly changing their marketing schemes, product names, logos, etc. While some use the effect as a fun jumping off point to speculate about alternate realities and simulated Universes others go so far down the rabbit hole they jump right off in the deep end.
What about you? Do you have any weird Mandela Effect stories? Any memory you were positive of only to find out you were wrong all along? Post a comment below!